The #1 Secret to Writing Great Copy Is . . .

The #1 Secret to Writing Great Copy Is . . .
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Reader Comments (36)

  1. Interesting, I never thought about reading stuff you see all the time. I read sales stuff that’s new or interesting to me, but I guess I don’t know if it’s really good or not, based on the “working” criteria.

  2. Great post. I wish everyone could read this before they stray into any new copyrighting venture.

    Your point about Ad Agencies are well taken. Some – are more interested in winning “Cleo’s” and not concerned about selling product.

    The perfect example of that is the Taco Bell commercial of old. Cute – somewhat funny – but not much – in terms of sales for the franchise..

    A quote from The Fast Company Weblog:

    “Sometimes a bad idea is only a bad idea because it was in the wrong universe.

    Who didn’t love the Taco Bell dog, and who hasn’t at one point or another uttered the phrase “Yo quiero Taco Bell”?

    “Seemed like a great idea for generating brand awareness. The problem? It didn’t sell very many tacos. Few things are less appetizing than a dog selling food. After all, dogs will eat anything.

    Maybe that would have been a good idea in the world of dog food. You quiero Milk Bones. Well, maybe not, but you get the idea.”

    And I have to say – that since Taco Bell has introduced their new “Fourth Meal” and “fullness from a value meal”
    campaign – I have scoffed down more than my share of their product.

    Up until that time – I was not a big fan. When they started introducing me to their new products I was sold. Their emphasis on value was also a hook..

    Another good example of a product sold via the broadcast media that created a popular buzz is Mentos – “The Fresh Maker.” No recognizable personalities, actors – or pop singers from a Pro-Active commercial (LOL!).

    Just the message that if you run into one of life’s conundrums – pop some Mentos – and you automatically find a solution to your current problem. The theme song was cheesy – and commercial – even more so.

    But – it worked. That roll of candy mints was always front and center. I could not identify an actor from any of the those commercials if you asked me to pick them out of line up.

    The campaign ran for a long time – testament to it’s ability to increase sales. I want that ad agency working for me – whoever they are!

    I guess my point here is (albeit a lengthy one) is that while most of us can’t afford million dollar TV Ad campaigns – there are some lessons that can be translated to writing good advertising copy for your direct mail campaign, website, or blog.

    Some of these might be obvious – and have been mentioned here already – but, they are work repeating. Most of them took me a long time to learn – and I am still learning!

    1) When writing about your product or service – emphasis the benefits. A lot of people try to explain how great their product is – without telling about what it can do for their customers. Make the product front and center.

    Think about incorporating some questions from the old Journalism mantra when you are writing ad copy:


    Who is my target market?
    What are my competitors strengths?
    When do they change their ad copy?
    Where are they advertising?
    How is my product better?
    Why do they want my product?

    2) Collect a number of websites – or advertisements that are related to your product niche. Create a file and save them for future reference and ideas.

    If they are websites – boomark them. Also, ask yourself what it is that makes you buy a product?

    What are the “emotional” triggers that made you get out your credit card – or write a check.

    3) Create romance or an exclusive auora around your product, i.e., the reference to Native Texas Pecan Cakes in this post.

    The king of this type of advertising is
    J. Peterman – quote:

    “People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them.”


    J. Peterman..

    SIDENOTE..Putting a video or audio clip on your website can help with sales. If you can craft a good sales message – or produce a good video that clearly explains your product or service – it does add credibility. However – you do have to split test to know whether or not it is actually increasing your sales.

    There are many other things that I could suggest – but I think I am starting to ramble. Just thought I would add my 1 1/2 cents!


  3. This is a great question. No one copywriting technique is going to conclusively work for every single market you write for. What it essentially comes down to is knowing your market and tailoring a persuasive, believable message for that market with an offer that outclasses your competition. After that, that’s when all the little copywriting tricks of the trade come into play.

  4. thanks for the article. I’m writing an ebook, and have found the information you present really useful for selling information. thanks again, adam

  5. That is so funny, I didn’t realize they had a term for that: “swipe file”. I use copyblogger as my swipe file. I’ve never seen so many click happy headlines on one blog in all my life.

  6. Excellant Article

    Good copy is all about creating active, vivid prose that flows with natural rhythm.

    Top Tip…Don’t write anything…
    … unless you know the following:
    Exactly why you’re writing it.
    What you want to get across.
    Who is going to read it.

    The Killer headline follows the copy in my book

  7. Thanks for the fantastic article series. I thought you might be interested in knowing the origins of the “classic piece of wisdom from Grandma” though. It’s actually a paraphrased fragment from The Golden Sayings of Epictetus:

    Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.

  8. Thank you for this article. It made sense really. Most people think that twitter is all about telling the world what they are doing. But very few listens. And those who listen will surely have something to contribute to the conversation.

  9. This also reminds me of being mentioned as a good place for mining the wants and needs of people. Looking at the most popular goals listed there one can get a fair idea of what people desire the most. Products that help meet these goals should succeed in the market. For example, losing weight is perhaps the most popular goals listed there and we all know the potential for a killer product in this area.

  10. Thanks for this series Brian!

    I subscribed to Copyblogger 2 hours ago. Just realized that I’ve already ready all 10 posts. Your writing style makes it easy to read.

    How do you start and maintain a Swipe File? Is there a blog post about it?

  11. I just read your entire copy writing 101 course and wanted to say that I was very impressed with it. Even if it is a few years olds at this point it’s provided me with a great foundation of information. I will be subscribing to your updated.

  12. Great, this swipe file thing. But where do we get them? How can we distinguish a winning ad from the run-of-the-mill types?

  13. Yes you can learn a whole lot from listening to the target market you are writing for. In my personal experience – if you manage to get the wording close to perfect it can dramatically improve the response rates to advertising copy.

  14. Hi Brian, is there a chance you can include some of your winning ads on the blog further? I have a lot of trouble finding these type of ads. (The resource included 2 ads before helps, though.) By the way, your newsletter is great, I just got the first lesson which helped me really understand many concepts I’d already read about. —Ivan

  15. This is a perfect one-stop-shop area for all-comers who want to write the right thing and avoid the pitfalls of copywriting. This stuff can be learned – once you are a reasonably good writer, learning what is involved in making good copy comes with practice! Thanks for sharing a great resource with us! Cheers! – Cassy.

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